Presence

My ghosts have been near to me again. A word, a song, a book… and they whisper again in my ear, inviting me to remember, to let them back in for a moment or two.

Someone near to me lost her brother this week. Drugs. It seems it is all too often drugs when it is someone gone too young. I saw her yesterday, young and sad and scared. I hugged her and invited her out for tea and told her I was willing to be a shoulder when she needed it. And grieved again my own sister, lost to me, though likely still alive, judging from the collections notices we still get in her name.

I indulged today and played hooky from Faire in order to hit reset, to take a break. Velah and Mr Awesome and the kids could go, and I’m sure will be full of stories when they return for dinner tonight. I drove into the city, to walk anonymous on the sunny streets and browse the dusty stacks at Powell’s books.

My ghosts followed me, though. A copy of “The Ghost in the Closet”, a book I bought at about age 14, and I think, my introduction to lesbian fiction. Back when it was just the “Gay Studies” section of Powell’s, and they kept it in the green room. The thrill of reading about Jackie, the butch Black cop with her bulging biceps, and the distant hope that someday, I’d find a funny lady with short hair and a take-charge manner.

Funny, isn’t it, how I became that lady, instead of finding one to date…

In the manga section, a copy of a book that Wash really wanted me to read. Several titles, in fact. When everything fell apart, he was trying to turn me into his anime buddy. And I was left with the niggling sense of something missing, something not quite healed, like when you have a cut and it is better and the scab has fallen off but the new skin is still sensitive and tight and doesn’t quite fit over the old hole correctly, yet.

The memories come, fast and strong, the current of them sweeping me into the past. My mother went to Powell’s, once, maybe twice. She took my sister and myself there, and Steph bought several Stephen King books; I forget what, if anything, I got. And in the same room as King’s multitudes of stories is another prolific author, Philip K Dick, and I recall how much a former lover wanted me to love his books, just like he does. “I’m really into Dick!” he proclaimed once, and I dissolved right there, in bed with him. He looked confused for a moment before he laughed along with me.

I think all of us have our ghosts that live in the corners of bookstores and thrift shops, little things that remind us of where we came from and who we used to be. Who knows why they brush our shoulders when they do, why the make their presence known at some times rather than others.

I’m just glad that sometimes, they do. Because sometimes, it’s really lovely to visit with those people we loved and the selves we used to be. Sometimes, it’s nice to have the reminder of where we came from, and where we don’t want to return.

Sometimes, it’s just nice to feel once again the presence of a person we loved and lost, and to feel for a brief moment, the warmth of their soul near our own.

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